‘Summer’ and ‘vacation’ are two words that don’t always go together when you work with young people in the church. With summer brings youth trips, Bible Camp, Vacation Bible School, and fall planning and preparation for the year ahead. All this can leave leaders with little time for a day off and especially for a vacation.
This past week the New York Times published an article on “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work.” The article foc uses mainly on burnout among clergy but I believe it applies to all leaders in the church. They discuss the stress and health concerns that come with not taking time off. In one their study groups they discovered a pastor who hadn’t taken a vacation in 18 years. Researches at Duke University found that church leaders, “tend to be driven by a sense of a duty to God to answer every call for help from anybody, and they are virtually called upon all the time, 24/7.”
Do you feel that way? In my own experience I know that there is always one more person to visit, always another thing on my to-do list during the day and evenings are quickly filled with meetings. Someone recently told me to work on spliting my day in thirds: morning, afternoon and evening. I should always make sure that I have one third of the day free from work duties. I am still trying to work on this discipline and have found it most effective to note my Sabbath time on my calendar to prevent me from scheduling something in its place. And I was encouraged to see that the article mentions work that the larger Church body is doing to help support it’s clergy and lay leaders. “The Episcopal, Baptist and Lutheran churches have all undertaken health initiatives that place special emphasis on the need for pastors to take vacations and observe “Sabbath days,” their weekday time off in place of Sundays.
There is much to glean from the article and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reflections on your own self care. How do you observe the Sabbath and what steps are you taking to prevent burn out?